Vegas Hotels for High Rollers

Three of the Strip’s most glamorous hotels provide ultra-exclusive spaces for their VVIP clientele.

WORDS Michael Shulman
November / December 2019

The Mansion at the MGM Grand's porte cochere. / Photography Jeff Green

Some of the greatest accommodations on the planet can be found on Las Vegas Boulevard. From The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to the MGM Grand to Wynn Las Vegas, no expense has been spared to accommodate, feed and attend to the comfort of high rollers, often with exclusive enclaves that cater solely to them. The design, ambience and amenities of each—while offering the latest in modern technological convenience—are unique, attracting a devoted following to all three: The Mansion at MGM Grand is imbued with an air of old-world elegance, Wynn’s duplex suites and Fairway Villas offer jet-set glamour, and the Boulevard Penthouses at The Cosmopolitan gleam with contemporary flair. And while their offerings are resoundingly magnificent, they uniformly adhere to Coco Chanel’s edict that “luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.”

The Mansion at MGM Grand is enclosed by a 125-foot-high atrium.

MGM Grand
When it comes to exclusive resorts-within-resorts, I always start at The Mansion at MGM Grand. Built in 1999 at a cost of about $290 million, The Mansion is a four-story, orchid-filled Italianate neo-palazzo inspired by an 18th-century Tuscan villa. Of the 29 Mediterranean-themed residences that can sprawl up to 12,000 square feet, eight offer direct garden access; the others overlook the courtyard of the 125-foot-high climate-controlled atrium, with its limestone fountain and horticultural splendor.

Guests arrive at The Mansion in one of two ways: by passing effortlessly through the MGM Grand’s high-limit gaming salon; or by driving through hand-forged iron gates onto a private motor court with granite cobblestones, where they are greeted and escorted to the reception loggia through 2,000-pound portals of bronze and Austrian crystal. The Mansion’s vibe is decidedly residential, as though one is visiting an estate that has been kept in the family for generations. Beyond imported Italian doors of solid wood, each villa has its own charm and decor, with the largest containing a dining room, media room, library, pool and barber chair (for en suite salon services). 

The Grand Salon at the MGM Grand.

The finest brands are used at The Mansion, from Frette linens and Bernardaud china to silver and crystal by Christofle and Bulgari bath amenities. When the property is at full occupancy, as it always is on holidays such as New Year’s, 175 dedicated staff members—butlers, concierges and culinary experts—are on hand around the clock. The Mansion counts two executive chefs on staff, one specializing in continental fare, the other in Asian cuisine. Afternoon high tea is served in The Loggia.

For those guests who wish to savor a bit of sublime gastronomy, Joël Robuchon—the city’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant—is a temple to French cuisine. And while the 16-course, $445 degustation menu might best be enjoyed on the picturesque Parisian Terrace, it’s the Aperitif Lounge, with its claret-colored walls and cognac-hued glow, that really takes one’s breath away.

Boulevard Penthouse at The Cosmopolitan. / Photography by Thomas Hart Shelby
The Cosmopolitan
Moving down the Strip, The Cosmopolitan’s Boulevard Tower contains myriad accommodations and gaming facilities aimed at a high-net-worth niche. Designed by the Rockwell Group to evoke a modern speakeasy, the tower’s intimate Talon Club initially opened in 2010 and was expanded in 2016 with the purpose of glamorizing gaming. A contemporary 9,500-square-foot hideaway filled with such posh touches as Scotch lockers, a humidor, distressed leather Chesterfield sofas and bars of polished brass, the Talon Club features a number of dining niches as well as contemporary art installations.

Deep within the club is the venue’s secret craft-cocktail bar, an elegant space filled with comfy four-seat vignettes. Elsewhere in the winding retreat, guests can enjoy a special menu that includes a Cordyceps soup that is literally worth more than its weight in gold. Using as its base a Chinese medicinal tea made from longan berries (believed to promote relaxation) and red dates (thought to balance one’s inner body energy), the soup features black-skinned chicken breast and a quarter-ounce of the rare Cordyceps fungus (priced at $14,000 a gram), which had been handpicked in the Himalayas before being flown to Las Vegas. This caterpillar fungus is believed to have powerful antiaging and aphrodisiacal properties, and at $688 per bowl, the soup is offered exclusively at the Talon Club. Of course, guests’ palates are not always predictable, so the staff is often dispatched to one of the resort’s numerous dining outlets—most notably Red Plate, a jewel box of a restaurant featuring sophisticated Cantonese dishes.

Red Plate Soya Egg, Soya Beef Tongue Soya Tofu.

Reserved for those guests whose play hits the million-dollar level are the exclusive Boulevard Penthouses. Comprising 21 suites designed by teams from Adam D. Tihany, Daun Curry and Richmond International on the top four floors of the Boulevard Tower, each penthouse is packed with fantastically luxe elements. Depending on the designer, a Boulevard Penthouse might feature a freestanding shower enclosed in glass, brass, marble and dark hardwoods, a white lacquer billiard table surrounded by resin walls of Majorelle blue trimmed in 24-karat gold, or mosaic murals of hand-cut Murano glass. “My mission is to inspire guests with fantasy and spontaneity,” says Curry, “to help them see the resort differently and, in both a literal and nonliteral sense, experience Las Vegas in an entirely new way.”

Then there’s the Reserve, one of Las Vegas’ most posh and exclusive gaming salons. Located on the Boulevard Tower’s 71st floor, the 2,300-square-foot Tihany-designed club exudes art deco flair. Of course, not everyone can enter the Reserve, but it is always ready to be activated for any $2 million player.

Encore duplex suite at Wynn Las Vegas. / Photography by Barbara Kraft

Wynn Las Vegas
If virtually every Strip hotel has a theme, then that of Wynn Las Vegas would be one of contemporary luxury, with an air of whimsical opulence throughout the property. For those players wishing for the ne plus ultra of gaming, the Sky Casino is a private 5,000-square-foot aerie on the 63rd floor of the resort’s Encore tower, complete with five salons (two with dining rooms), slots, baccarat tables and a lounge, all with sweeping views of the Las Vegas Valley.

Many of Wynn’s highest rollers, however, prefer to play in one of the casino’s exquisite private gaming salons, located off the main casino floor, with nine on the Wynn side and two within Encore. Walls are upholstered in gray mohair and crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling; some have floor-to-ceiling windows with terraces overlooking the pool and gardens.

A recurring motif, peacocks are portrayed on embroidered silk screens throughout the space. On the Encore side, enormous frosted Austrian-crystal versions with eyes of Imperial jade are stationed like sentries at the entry to the high-limit area. (Designed by Roger Thomas—executive vice president of Wynn Design and Development—and created by Hong Kong’s Rich Creation, the peacocks were damaged during shipping. Thomas had to create new tails featuring 90 “feathers” of silver-gilded stainless steel, covered in roughly 120,000 crystals.)

Suite at Wynn Las Vegas.
Encore’s three-bedroom duplexes are truly majestic, featuring soaring living/dining rooms with seating for 16 and two-story windows providing some of Las Vegas’ most sought-after views. Over at Wynn, the Fairway Villas were designed with both comfort and luxury in mind, possessing the feel of incredibly stylish pieds-à-terre. Overlooking the Wynn Golf Club, villas on the second and third floors feature sprawling terraces, while first-floor accommodations offer swimming pools and gardens.

“Success is measured by surpassing all expectations, from the moment guests arrive until the moment they depart,” says Ramesh Sadhwani, executive vice president of Wynn and Encore. Once, an entire cinema was secured at the last minute for a private screening, complete with full dinners prepared by the hotel’s kitchen.

No restaurant at Wynn is reserved solely for high rollers, though some certainly cater to that clientele. Twice each year, the casino hosts a lavish dim-sum brunch at Wing Lei—the first Michelin-starred Chinese restaurant in North America—from Christmas to New Year’s and again during Chinese New Year. I cannot stress enough just how worthwhile it will be for you (and your taste buds) to experience this special epicurean event.


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